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Byron Shire
July 28, 2021

National Party’s promise ‘to get the trains running’

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Louise Doran, Ocean Shores

For many years the National Party promised ‘to get the trains running’ on the Casino–Murwillumbah train line, which helped them retain their North Coast seats. When the Premier and the National Party leader visited Brunswick Heads this week they refused to speak to locals (who also vote) about the train service.

In 2019 all they want to talk about is replacing the train line with a very expensive bike track. What a breathtaking backflip!

If the Nationals are going to treat voters with such contempt and put the community’s need for a train service last, it’s only fair we return the favour and put the National Party last on our ballots.

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  1. They also changed the timetable which was perfectly good for 30 years. Now Northcoast rural residents cannot connect to services via school bus timetable and arrive home at 230 am.

  2. The rail line was not maintained adequately for years by both major parties-then they used the state of the line and changed timetable and reduced patronage as an excuse to cease the service.

    The electorate of Ballina (and Lismore) has soundly rejected the Nats proposal to destroy the rail line and replace it with a very expensive, useless bike track.

    The re-elected Greens MP, claimed at a rally recently if she had a powerful position on the cross bench, as she now has, would be able to get things done, should be able to get the trains running, and provide sustainable public transport for locals and millions of tourists as the hard working people in this electorate have been calling for since 2003.

    It’s atrocious that the third most visited region in the country has NO RAIL SERVICE!!

    • Both Labor and the Nationals in Lismore, Ballina and Tweed went to the electorate with a clear policy of supporting the rail trail and neither made any commitment to reinstating trains. At the candidates fora I attended Asren Pugh, Ben Franklin, Janelle Saffin and Austin Curtis unequivocally stated their support for the rail trail The majority of voters of overwhelmingly voted for those candidates: Lismore 65%, Ballina 56% and Tweed 79% . Regardless of what she might have said at a rally to train supporters Tamara made no such commitment at the candidates forum at the Macadamia Castle and wrote on her Facebook that the Greens were calling for a comprehensive public transport plan for the next 50 years ( with no set ideas around what that technology looks like) . She went on: “…we want an independent, future proof study for public transport – if that study says no rail on any corridor we will be the first to say roll out the rail trails”. Sue Higginson chose to identify with the train attending a rally and talking about transprot on front of the railway – without making any commitments of course – and received just 24% of first preferences and was defeated, as was of course Bill Fenelon the politician most strongly identified with the train received just 13%.

      There were many other issues in each of the electorates but candidates who supported the rail trial garnered the support of the majority of voters in all three electorates. There is an electoral mandate for its implementation and importantly no mandate for any train enthusiasts to try and unlawfully disrupt its implementation. And the votes showed very clearly they want better roads and do not want a train.

      Geoff Provost has shown he can deliver transport improvements in the Tweed. Let’s encourage Tamara and Janelle to work together and ensure we do not miss out yet again on the government investments in real public transport in regional NSW, and in continued investment in active transport infrastructure, particularly in our towns. .

  3. Regardless of how many times a few bikers try and put a positive spin on the outcome, people knew exactly who to vote for if they wanted the line ripped up for a rail trail.

    Unless selfish bikers can bring themselves to share the corridor with trains, the rail trail is gone along with the National party. Ten thousand people who have signed petitions for trains since the last state election are not about to allow the valuable line to be destroyed.

    The ambiguous language about ‘transport plans’ used by some candidates to try and silence train supporters did not go down well with voters. They’ve heard it all too many times.

    • There is no spin about it at all Louise. The majority of people in Tweed, Ballina and Lismore gave their first preference to candidates who unequivocally supported the rail trail. There was nothing ambiguous about Labor’s proposal to develop a transport plan and it has a much chance of delivering on that as the Greens. What is important is that it focuses on users of public transport; there is no suggestion of shifting a large part of transport funding in our region away from those most dependent on it to fund a train along a corridor where few people use the existing services. .

      The rail trial is intended for community use by walkers, cyclists – the Australian term for the US “biker” – and other active transport users. The Greens might have strung you along with promises of a rail beside trial but they and you never explain how that would work along narrow cutting through tunnels or over St Helena . If the Byron Line proposals can come up with a mixed use along the flatter wider sections that would be great but it is not a solution form Casino to Murwillumbah.

      There is nothing selfish about accepting that public transprot here can be more economically, sustainably and equitably provided by road. There is nothing selfish about advocating to use the corridor for economic and recreational benefit of our region. I am not sure what you mean by “…the rial trail is gone along with the Nationals.” Nor do I understand what you are referring to about rail supporters not allowing the line to be destroyed. The rail corridor belongs to the people of NSW and they have voted for a government that supports our rail trail. The minority of people who oppose it have no mandate to stop it proceeding; the thousands of supporters who contributed not signatures but $60,000 of their crowd funded money to its planning have every right to expect the NSW government to deliver what the government committed to y promised and the majority of voters here supported.

  4. Many of those in Byron who are advocating for improved rail services, with a connection through to Gold Coast and Brisbane, will be screaming blue blood murder when “the hordes” start arriving by the trainload. Let them come by bicycle, I say.

    • The hordes arrived many years ago-their cars are clogging our roads and spewing carbon emissions by the ton, and costing ratepayers a fortune in road maintainance. That’s before we even start building the $24 million on the useless Byron by-pass down a suburban street beside a train line and train station!!

      Brilliant way to waste taxpayers’ money.

      • What would be a waste Louise would be spending billions on a train to bring the hordes from SE QLD when in this area the only train that could run off the grid would spew out more carbon per passenger than a modern light car. Can I also point out that modern cars do very little damage to properly maintianed roads. The burden on ratepayers – and now on the people of NSW – has not been caused by tourist cars, but by decades of neglect of roads in the Byron Shire and in parts of some adjoining shires.

        The great majority of vistors to the Gold Coast travel by car and that is how they will visit here – train or not. Ballina has benifited by building and maintianing a road and cycle/walking infrastrucre that copes with holiday visitor numebrs comparable to the Byron Shire and no one there calls it a waste. When will some people recognise the reality and focus on restoring and improving our road system and creating the paths to make our area an unparralled destinaiton for safe cylce recreation and touring.


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